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BioShock Interview

Thinking BioShock From Tech to Philosophy converses with 2K Boston technical director Christopher Kline about their "terrible secret" (they're not actually located in Boston), as well less terrible topics, "such as getting gamers interested in seeing the sequel (and thus driving publisher interest) to the hard philosophies of technology use, UI design, and respect for the audience. "

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70. No subject Aug 12, 2008, 08:55 dryden555
 
Bioshock = truly great first level and then a rapid downward spiral at mid point. These no-penalty resurrection chambers located every 100 feet were one of the worst game-design decisions in recent memory. What were they smoking? What were the game reviewers thinking? Apparently there's a patch that turns the chambers off, but that was out many months later. I'm not convinced the sequel will be better.

 
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69. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 23:32 Jerykk
 
But Oblivion wasn't trying to be Baldur's Gate - that's the whole point.

I never asked for Oblivion to be Baldur's Gate. I simply asked that it retain the most important aspect of all RPGs: meaningful choice.

Stealth isn't worth a damn in Half-Life 2 / Bioshock, etc, but in Oblivion it really was a viable option and one that I used considerably.

Except it was too effective. The AI was completely retarded. You could backstab (with a warhammer, no less) somebody six times in a row and they wouldn't even turn around.

And stealth was pretty effective in Bioshock. The chameleon plasmid was my favorite one and made stalking my enemies much easier.

The problem is you're looking to see whether it's a "good RPG" instead of whether it's a "good game".

The problem is that Oblivion is called an RPG by the developers, marketing, reviewers and everyone else. When I buy something, I have expectations. If I buy a ticket to see a horror film, I don't want to see a romantic comedy. When I buy milk, I don't want grape juice. While romantic comedies and grape juice may have their own merits, those merits are not what I wanted.

Oblivion is supposed to be an RPG and as such, there are certain tenets which it is supposed to abide by, such as meaningful choice.

 
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68. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 22:42 Wowbagger_TIP
 
It was far from perfect. I guess I just looked at the game very differently to other people. I saw it was a first person with depth, rather than a shallow RPG. Stealth isn't worth a damn in Half-Life 2 / Bioshock, etc, but in Oblivion it really was a viable option and one that I used considerably. It was often better to sneak about than fight countless guards, unlike the "stealth" in Crysis where you might as well just kill everyone.
I understand. You're a "glass-half-full" kinda person. That doesn't change the fact that it was still only half a glass. Average.

This comment was edited on Aug 11, 22:43.
 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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67. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 21:56 Beamer
 
Oblivion had no non-superficial choices.
None.

What race do you want to be?
Doesn't matter, you'll play the same way and do the same quests.

Do you want to be head of the fighters guild or mages guild?
Who cares, be both?

Do you want to defeat the whole game on level one?
Go for it.

How about classes, surely those must make a difference?
Nope, not really. Aside from one or two choices regarding mana, it's all the same.
 
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66. ... Aug 11, 2008, 21:56 theyarecomingforyou
 
As for not measuring Oblivion by the standard set by RPGs like Baldur's Gate... why not? Should we not judge games by the highest standards? If we judge games by the lowest standards, they will never evolve... which is why gaming is in the state it is today.
But Oblivion wasn't trying to be Baldur's Gate - that's the whole point. It was an action-RPG that set out to do things very differently. That's not to say it wouldn't have benefited from many of aspects of other RPGs but it wasn't trying to do so. I took Oblivion for what it was and had a great time.

I agree that Oblivion was shallow on the RPG side of things and could have been substantially improved - heck, even the action could have been improved. The point is it was still a good / great game. It was never average.

I was with you up until that part... I hated the stealth system. Psychic guards knowing automatically whenever you commit a crime, even if there's nobody there to see you. Targets always knowing exactly where you are, even if you run away and hide again after attacking. Being able to sneak around in full armor. And those are just the major problems. There were several other smaller issues related to attacks and weapons that were just bizarre decisions.
It was far from perfect. I guess I just looked at the game very differently to other people. I saw it was a first person with depth, rather than a shallow RPG. Stealth isn't worth a damn in Half-Life 2 / Bioshock, etc, but in Oblivion it really was a viable option and one that I used considerably. It was often better to sneak about than fight countless guards, unlike the "stealth" in Crysis where you might as well just kill everyone.

To me, RPGs are defined by meaningful choice and consequence. Every choice should have potential short- and long-term consequences. If a game does this, it is a good RPG.
The problem is you're looking to see whether it's a "good RPG" instead of whether it's a "good game".

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65. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 15:25 Wowbagger_TIP
 
Within each quest, there is no choice. You can't betray the quest-giver, you can't give the requested item to a different character, etc. Your only choice is either to do a quest or don't.
There were a couple of quests that gave you options. The one that comes immediately to mind is the Glarthir quest in Skingrad where there's like 6 possible paths. Granted, they all seem to have similar outcomes, but at least they tried. Unfortunately there were only a few of them that even have multiple options, let alone different outcomes.

 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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64. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 15:07 Wowbagger_TIP
 
You know, I just threw away my desktop at home, because I was tired of trying to get my hard drive to work, or figuring out my power supply... It's nice to come home and just have a console, power it on, and enjoy gaming. I don't think you need to limit your audience or your style of game, based on what you're developing for.
It does kind of explain a lot about the mentality of their team though. "It's too hard! I want it to be so easy a retarded chimp could do it!" That sums up their game design direction pretty well.

 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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63. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 15:07 Jerykk
 
Sadly, the attitude of every single console gamer that I know, even the ones who once were pc gamers and have jumped ship. "It's too hard to make my pc work properly!"

Yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. Last time I checked, all I had to do was turn on my computer and double-click an icon if I wanted to play a game.

 
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62. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 14:50 Roachmojo
 
You know, I just threw away my desktop at home, because I was tired of trying to get my hard drive to work, or figuring out my power supply... It's nice to come home and just have a console, power it on, and enjoy gaming. I don't think you need to limit your audience or your style of game, based on what you're developing for.

Sadly, the attitude of every single console gamer that I know, even the ones who once were pc gamers and have jumped ship. "It's too hard to make my pc work properly!"

Fucking idiot crybaby retards...

This comment was edited on Aug 11, 14:51.
 
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61. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 14:10 Jerykk
 
Ever since GTA 3, the gaming public has become obsessed to "open worlds."

Open worlds and meaningful choices are not contradictory. The Fallout games had both.

Speaking of which, I found this little post to pretty much nail everything that was wrong with Oblivion and why people should be concerned about FO3:

http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43984

This comment was edited on Aug 11, 14:40.
 
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60. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 14:08 Bhruic
 
And you're making the assumption that "not having fun" means its a poor game. Sometimes it comes down to personal taste.

What the hell? Did I use too many big words, or is your reading comprehension just that bad? I didn't say anything about not having fun meaning it's a poor game. In fact, I didn't refer to not having fun at all.

 
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59. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 14:00 the_culture
 
As for not measuring Oblivion by the standard set by RPGs like Baldur's Gate... why not? Should we not judge games by the highest standards?

High standards? Yes, I totally agree. I oftentimes wonder why other first-person shooters don't measure up to Half-Life 2 (which I believe is the best FPS).

SO if you compare the quality and workmanship of Oblivion to Baldur's Gate, then yes, it doesn't measure up. But I don't think it's right to compare feature sets.

Oblivion did not have meaningful choice. There are no meaningful choices whatsoever. You can max out every stat, join every faction, do every quest. Within each quest, there is no choice. You can't betray the quest-giver, you can't give the requested item to a different character, etc. Your only choice is either to do a quest or don't.

You can place the blame squarely on Rockstar and the popularity of the GTA games for that. Ever since GTA 3, the gaming public has become obsessed to "open worlds."

"Every game must be an open world; I must be allowed to go anywhere, do anything!"

Granted, Bethesda made the choice to model Oblivion on GTA...

 
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58. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:54 the_culture
 
You're making the assumption that "having fun" means that it was a great game.

And you're making the assumption that "not having fun" means its a poor game. Sometimes it comes down to personal taste.

 
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57. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:48 Bhruic
 
All I'm saying is that I had fun with it. Same with Bioshock

And that's the problem. You're making the assumption that "having fun" means that it was a great game. I wouldn't agree that that is a valid definition. You can easily have fun with games that aren't great. In fact, a lot of people have fun with games that aren't great because they aren't really looking for great. The most obvious game to point to being Halo (the whole Halo series, really). There's nothing about those games that is great. But based on the sales numbers and the fanboy-ism, I'd have to assume a large number of people had fun playing them.

The same is true of Oblivion. Heck, I had fun playing it. But that doesn't stop me from realizing that it was an extremely shallow game. Barring the exceptional graphics, it was a decidely inferior product compared to its predecessors. That doesn't make it a bad game, and it doesn't make it game you can't have fun with, but I'd certainly agree that "average" sums it up quite well.

I can't comment too much on Bioshock, as the game crashed too frequently for me to finish it. But I can comment on other games that suffered from "dumbing down", Thief 3 being the easiest to choose. Thief 1 and 2 were amazing games with large levels, great stealth elements, well put together stories, just generally great games. Thief 3 was not. It was decidely average, thanks to simplistic map design, small levels, "glowing" loot, poor AI, etc, etc.

What it comes down to is the fact that you really can't use "fun" as a system of judgement of games' quality.

 
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56. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:44 Jerykk
 
Three things:

1) There aren't varying degrees of RPGs?

2) There should be some sort of unified classification for games, since the term RPG gets thrown around wildly these days.

3) I'd like to think you're smarter than that. It didn't matter what Bethesda said about Oblivion before it's release, I knew it was not going to be of the same caliber as Baldur's gate.

To me, RPGs are defined by meaningful choice and consequence. Every choice should have potential short- and long-term consequences. If a game does this, it is a good RPG. There are other important elements to an RPG: character development options, compelling writing, an open, living world... however, without meaningful choices, these things are all for naught.

Oblivion did not have meaningful choice. There are no meaningful choices whatsoever. You can max out every stat, join every faction, do every quest. Within each quest, there is no choice. You can't betray the quest-giver, you can't give the requested item to a different character, etc. Your only choice is either to do a quest or don't.

As for not measuring Oblivion by the standard set by RPGs like Baldur's Gate... why not? Should we not judge games by the highest standards? If we judge games by the lowest standards, they will never evolve... which is why gaming is in the state it is today.

 
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55. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:34 Beamer
 
Also - Oblivion was the most entertaining action adventure game I've played in years. And, if you avoided the radiant AI hype (which I did, as I paid zero attention to the game before release, assuming it was a lame fantasy based RPG), you'd be impressed with it.

It had major flaws and hysterical bugs, but felt more lifelike than anything before. Compared to the hype, which I read after the fact, it falls way short. Compared to other games it was pretty good and, at worst, pretty unintentionally funny.
 
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54. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:32 Beamer
 
It's not so much a personal attack as an observation.

Jerykk, at 20, spends most of his time complaining about the "good old days." He's one of the better posters here, but ever since Fallout 3 was announced he's been very bitter about modern gaming.

You'd expect a Nickelback fan to have lower standards (see, there's the personal attack.)
 
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53. Re: ... Aug 11, 2008, 13:23 Wowbagger_TIP
 
the stealth really worthwhile and the action very enjoyable.
I was with you up until that part... I hated the stealth system. Psychic guards knowing automatically whenever you commit a crime, even if there's nobody there to see you. Targets always knowing exactly where you are, even if you run away and hide again after attacking. Being able to sneak around in full armor. And those are just the major problems. There were several other smaller issues related to attacks and weapons that were just bizarre decisions.

Given the problems with the stealth system and the magic system, along with the pointlessness of playing a game with leveled encounters to begin with, I just couldn't play it until some major gameplay fixing mods were released. That's why I'm hoping that there will be modding tools released for Fallout 3. Otherwise, how will the community be able to fix the inevitable moronic decisions made in that game?

 
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52. ... Aug 11, 2008, 12:30 theyarecomingforyou
 
but has gameplay that is dumbed down (and there's really no other way to describe Oblivion's leveled encounters) and shallow.
I really wasn't a fan of the levelled encounters but that didn't prevent me from enjoying the game - the universe was still deeply engrossing, the voice acting incredibly strong (if a bit samey), the missions quirky and fun, the stats / skills fun to build up, the stealth really worthwhile and the action very enjoyable.

If there were two games like Oblivion but one had much deeper RPG elements then I'd jump at it - my point isn't that Oblivion had the perfect balance. All I'm saying is that I had fun with it. Same with Bioshock - I really enjoyed the strong narrative, the art direction, the presentation, etc... but if there were two games like it and one had deeper elements and more varied gameplay then I'd jump at it. It's just Bioshock was very enjoyable (if far too samey).

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51. ... Aug 11, 2008, 12:23 theyarecomingforyou
 
Uh, Oblivion is considered an RPG according to the developers and everyone in the media. Why is it stupid to compare it to other RPGs?
Yes, but just because they fall into a general category doesn't mean comparing them directly on a subset of features is reasonable. It's like comparing a Hummer to a little Suzuki 4x4 - they're simply designed for different purposes. Oblivion did many things better than other RPGs, just as it over-simplified / omitted many others. The point is that the game was excellent at what it set out to do (backed up by reviews, sales and many user opinions). Was is the deepest RPG? Not by a long way but it wasn't trying to be. You seem to have this notion that all games should match the deepest elements of a particular genre and not try to do anything different. Oblivion wasn't meant to be Baldur's Gate III; Bioshock wasn't meant to be System Shock 3... get over it.

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Remember: Riley has autism. He has trouble communicating, and in an overstimulating
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